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Estimating tomato tolerance to heavy metal toxicity: cadmium as study case

Piotto, Fernando Angelo, Carvalho, Marcia Eugenia Amaral, Souza, Lucas Anjos, Rabêlo, Flávio Henrique Silva, Franco, Mônica Regina, Batagin-Piotto, Katherine Derlene, Azevedo, Ricardo Antunes
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.27 pp. 27535-27544
cadmium, cadmium chloride, chlorophyll, cultivars, heavy metals, hydroponics, phytomass, phytotoxicity, tomatoes
This work aimed to develop a reliable and fast approach to estimate the plant tolerance degree to heavy metal (HM) phytotoxicity. Two independent experiments were carried out using tomato accessions, with contrasting morphological features, that were grown in a hydroponic solution containing different CdCl₂ concentrations for 7 days. Plant dry weight and chlorophyll content (SPAD units) were evaluated, and tolerance degree to Cd toxicity was estimated according to the tolerance index (TI), which is a new mathematical formula based on plant biomass proposed in this study. Although with different magnitudes, tomato exhibited reductions in their dry weight concurrently with the increasing CdCl₂ concentration. By contrast, chlorophyll content presented no standard response, decreasing and even increasing according to CdCl₂ concentrations, indicating that only under certain conditions (particularly, at CdCl₂ 50 μM), this parameter can be used to estimate plant tolerance to Cd toxicity. TI was efficiently able to segregate tomato cultivars with similar performance (based on the total dry weight of plants), and such segregation was optimized when the hydroponic solution contained from 25 to 50 μM CdCl₂. Within this range, data pointed at 35 μM CdCl₂ as the best concentration to be employed in studies related to the tomato tolerance/sensitivity to Cd toxicity. In conclusion, TI proved to be a reliable estimator of tolerance degree to Cd exposure in genetically distinct tomato accessions. Moreover, TI can be used for this same purpose in plants under other HM-induced stresses.